Blind woman sues CBA over touchscreen POS machines

Blind woman sues CBA over touchscreen POS machines

A blind woman has lodged a lawsuit against Commonwealth Bank of Australia over its "inaccessible" touchscreen-only Albert POS terminal, which she says is so difficult to use she often needs to share her PIN with shop staff.

In an unusual step for a bank, CBA teamed up with German tech firm Wincor Nixdorf and Ideo to launch an Android-based tablet POS system dubbed Albert in March 2015. The offering has proved a success, and there are now more than 88,000 machines throughout Australia.

Albert requires a PIN for purchases of $100 or more but the lack of a tactile keypad has proved a problem for 350,000 blind and visually impaired Australians.

Last July, Blind Citizens Australia and former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes spoke out about the issue, warning that people were being asked to risk security by divulging their PINs to retail staffers.

Innes, who says that he has been asking CBA to modify the machines for more than two years, has now teamed up with Nadia Mattiazzo to lodge the discrimination lawsuit.

"We have ramps into buildings, we have accessible technology, we have iPhones, which have an absolute accessibility feature built into them. It's really disappointing to know that there are things being developed that don't have that consideration," says Mattiazzo.

In a statement, CBA says that Albert has an "accessibility solution for people who are blind or have low vision".

This lets users listen to instructions to enter their PIN but Blind Citizens Australia CEO Emma Bennison told ABC that the feature is unsuitable and "terribly anxiety provoking".

Meanwhile, CBA says: "As Albert evolves, we will continue to look for the best possible solutions, harnessing emerging technology and innovation, to ensure consistent experiences for all our customers using the device."

Comments: (1)

Ainsley Ward
Ainsley Ward - CGI - Toronto 17 March, 2018, 13:04Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This is long overdue. The security and accessibility compromises that were made by the card brands to proliferate mobile payments were a travesty and hopefully this will help to pare them back. PIN on glass hugely contravenes disability legislation in most countries - and was hugely damaging to the POS industry as it kicked the chair from under companies doing things securely and with consideration. The Banking industry needs to learn a valuable lesson about finding the balance between deployment of new technology and ensuring that all sectors of the public are able to access services without hinderance. 

Particularly as we move into the Open API era and 'app-ization' of banking, the instinct to place technology over customers is highly tempting, but this is people's money that we are dealing with. Unlike any other industry, if we deny service to the most vulnerable in our society - those with disabilities, the older generation, those not at home with technology - we not only isolate them, we run the risk of making their lives increasingly difficult and forcing them to find more expensive or risky solutions to their issues. 

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